La Rafle Reviews
"La rafle" is emotional but not sentimental, even if the direction and music go a bit overboard every now and then. It effectively portrays the final days of people who never expected their normal lives to end in genocide, within a very short period of time. It also manages to explore the restrained contempt felt by Parisians toward Jews as something recognizable and universal; a generalization-based scapegoating stemming from the human impulse to simplify that frequently assists the most horrific consequences somewhere in the world.
The French government acknowledged this part of the Holocaust as late as 1995. The reached objective of Bosch and her extensive research with historian Serge Klarsfeld seems to be in making the horrible and shameful event come alive, to finally become real for every viewer.
"La Rafle" was truly the straw which broke this cinemaphile's back. There is just so much horrific realistic cenema one can take.
The realism, the performances, the true story of the French collaboration with the Nazis in 1942 was more than either of us could endure.
Elements of the film are deriviative of other great Holocaust films and documentaries. I doubt that I shall be adding any more Holocaust films to my queue any longer. Enough is enough. I do hope that the current generation and future generations will watch this film and remember this dreadful chapter in our world's history.
There's certainly quite a bit of meat to this film's subject matter, but this Holocaust drama is relatively minimalist, and at two hours, it outstays its welcome, going padded out by too many subplots and too much material, until, after a while, repetition rears its ugly head into things, and would be more forgivable if all of this overblown story structure wasn't backed by atmospheric dryness. The film's isn't bone-dry to the point of being near-tedious, but the film does feel as though it's limping along, with just enough kick to sustain your investment, at least to a certian degree, but not necessarily to where your attention is fully sustained. If nothing else, the film is kind of bland, being no bore, but certainly much too slow, if not a touch dull at times, and with overdrawn story structuring giving you enough time to meditate upon the atmospheric dry spells, you're bound to find yourself disengaged a bit, with some dramatic issues not exactly helping engagement value. Due to overall underwhelmingness, this film's most genuine bits of emotional resonance are rarely all that effective, but they are here, though not all the time, because as dramatically intense as this film's worthy subject matter is, there come points in which ambition for dramatic resonance goes a bit too far and sparks sentimentality, which doesn't do too much damage to emotional effectiveness, but certainly does enough damage to subtelty to dilute the full genuineness and impact of certain points of dramatic punch. The emotional kick that this film tries so desperately to deliver hits its marks about more often than it misses, but make no mistake, there are dramatic misfires, thanks to subtlety issues and, of course, familiarity, something that plagues most every other aspect in this film, whose originality level doesn't necessarily have to be all that remarkable, but is much too low, as the film follows plenty of tropes as a Holocaust drama, and that restains a bit of the impact that you cannot afford to lose when aiming to deliver on the full effectiveness of a drama of this type. Conventionalism does a lot of damage to the final product, largely because it emphasizes natural shortcomings in this plot's relative thinness, which is further emphasized by pacing issues that leave the final product to meander along until, by the end, it slips short of rewarding and into underwhelmingness. Still, while the film can't exactly "round up" (Get it?) enough strengths to truly reward as much as it should, it is worth checking out, as it does indeed have its share of moments that break up a consistent degree of engagement value, complimented by inspired musicality.
Rather conventional, as well as often overemphasized as a major supplement to manipulativeness, this film's score - composed by Christian Henson - and classical soundtrack take a bit of getting used to as storytelling components, but once you find that you're able to go with this film's musicality, you'll find it to be a worthy compliment to atmospheric kick, which of course leaves you to further appreciate the sheer excellence in the music by its own right. From the efforts of such powerhouse legends as Frédéric Chopin and Louis Moreau Gottschalk (You even get a bit of Richard Wagner's fabulous prelude to "Das Rheingold" for all too brief of a moment), to the efforts of such modern classical maestros as Georges Delerue and Philip Glass, this film boasts plenty of lovely classical compositions, and after a while, you begin to feel that they do a lot to drive this film, which is driven enough by the very minimalist subject matter that it all too often betrays to some extent. This film's story is one that has been explored to death, as the final product leaves you to realize while it works a bit too hard to get emotional rises, and not hard enough to keep structural and atmospheric pacing smooth, but, needless to say, this subject matter is very worthy, with plenty of dramatic potential that isn't well-controlled as it should be, but is undeniable, especially when it is, in fact, done justice to by high spots within Roselyne Bosch's script, whose strengths are outweighed by the strengths within Bosch's direction. Sure, even as director, Bosch hits many issues, to the point of driving the film into underwhelmingness, yet for every storytelling misstep, Bosch delivers on just enough atmospheric reinforcement to keep you from drifting too far away, if not a dramatic note that is, in fact, genuine effective, not to where you're left in tears, but certainly to where you're moved, feeling the emotional weight that you should be feeling more of in the long run, but get just enough of to keep your investment reasonably stable. Speaking of Holocaust films, if I can loosely quote Liam Neeson as the late, great Oskar Schindler here, Bosch "could have done more", making too many mistakes with handling of this delicate subject matter, but nevertheless acceling just enough to keep you adequately attached to the final product, which is easily powered the most by its performances. Acting material isn't exactly torrential in its wealth, but just about every notable performance in the film has a moment to shine, whether it be by one of the young child talents (The Concetto twins were annoying, as you would expect from little kids, but I guess they were alright), or by one of the older, if not all-out seasoned talents, all of whom deliver on enough inspired emotion and conviction to sell you on the human depth of this film and carry the final product. Sure, it takes more than just strong performances to carry a drama of this type out of underwhelmingness, and considering that this film is just so flawed, the final product comes out falling short of what it could have been, but not so short that it's not powered just enough by inspiration in direction, writing and acting to engage more often than not.
In the end, a somewhat overblown and often repetitious story structure, backed by dull spells in atmosphere, dilute engagement value, while manipulative moments in emotional punch and consistent conventionalism dilute dramatic effectiveness enough for the final product to fall as unfortunately underwhelming, but not to where it's not still saved by the fine classical soundtrack and worthwhile subject matter - brought to life by inspired moments in Roselyne Bosch's direction, and carried by a myriad of compelling performances - to make "The Round Up" or "La Rafle" (Sounds like "raffle"; you don't want to enter this lottery, folks) a decent Holocaust drama that has a fair degree of moments, even though it could have struck deeper.
2.5/5 - Fair